Project to see build­ing of na­tion’s long­est rail tun­nel

New Straits Times - - News -

KUANTAN: The first phase of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) will see the con­struc­tion of a 17.8km tun­nel from Ben­tong, Pa­hang, to Gom­bak, Se­lan­gor, mak­ing it the long­est rail tun­nel in Malaysia.

The Ben­tong-Gom­bak tun­nel forms part of a net­work of 49km of tun­nels to be built in 19 lo­ca­tions along the total 688km length of the rail­way line, from the Klang Val­ley to Kota Baru, Ke­lan­tan.

Malaysia Rail Link (MRL) Sdn Bhd chair­man Tan Sri Mohd Ir­wan Seri­gar Ab­dul­lah said the con­struc­tion of the tun­nels, which forms the first phase of the ECRL project cov­er­ing 22 sta­tions, was ex­pected to be com­pleted within the next four years.

He said tun­nelling work at the 19 hilly lo­ca­tions was ex­pected to be­gin early next year.

Most of the lo­ca­tions were in Pa­hang, with the re­main­der at bor­der ar­eas with Tereng­ganu and Ke­lan­tan.

“Con­struc­tion of both Phase 1 and 2 of the ECRL project will be done si­mul­ta­ne­ously, in­clud­ing bor­ing the long­est tun­nel in Malaysia (Ben­tong-Gom­bak).

“It will utilise tun­nel bor­ing ma­chines or drill and blast, de­pend­ing on which is the most suit­able, ac­cord­ing to the sit­u­a­tion,” he said.

“The project’s con­trac­tor, China Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Con­struc­tion Com­pany Ltd (CCCC), pos­sesses the tech­no­log­i­cal ca­pa­bil­ity sup­ported by the work­force, in­clud­ing en­gi­neers and lo­cal em­ploy­ees, and is able to com­plete the RM55 bil­lion mega project as planned.”

He pointed out that soil work project to im­ple­ment the rail net­work was com­pleted and ac­qui­si­tion work be­gan in June, and would take 12 months from now to com­plete.

“We fore­see the project to be­gin later this year,” he said at a press con­fer­ence af­ter the ECRL launch cer­e­mony by Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak here yes­ter­day.

Ir­wan, who is also Trea­sury sec­re­tary-gen­eral, said MRL would also con­struct a num­ber of bridges mea­sur­ing a total of 88.8km at ECRL lo­ca­tions that have a high risk of floods, es­pe­cially in Tereng­ganu and Ke­lan­tan.

“This project is for the peo­ple. The 688km rail track from Port Klang, Se­lan­gor, to Tumpat, Ke­lan­tan, would lead to a mul­ti­plier ef­fect via short­en­ing the du­ra­tion of travel, cut­ting down the rate of ac­ci­dents, pro­vid­ing job op­por­tu­ni­ties and boost­ing in­come, and cre­at­ing growth in terms of tran­sit-ori­ented de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing busi­ness and lo­gis­tics.

“We are thank­ful to the gov­ern­ments of Pa­hang, Tereng­ganu, Ke­lan­tan and Se­lan­gor, which pro­vided the best co­op­er­a­tion, es­pe­cially in terms of land ac­qui­si­tion.

“It is our aim to en­sure the project is com­pleted ear­lier than sched­uled so that the peo­ple can reap ben­e­fits as soon as pos­si­ble,” he said.

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